With the update to the UK Connected and Automated Mobility Roadmap to 2030 fast approaching, we spoke to Nick Reed, Founder of Reed Mobility, about the organisation’s CAM Creator status and contribution to UK Connected and Automated Mobility.

Tell us about your organisation and your role within it.

Reed Mobility is a consultancy that was established in the summer of 2019 to support the creation of transport systems that are safer, cleaner, more efficient, ethical and equitable. I started the business after choosing to leave my role as Head of Mobility R&D at Bosch and bring my experiences from leading a portfolio of CAM projects of a value exceeding £50m and my involvement in transport innovation for more than 15 years. Some of Reed Mobility’s current projects include support for Bosch’s role in the ConVEx project (a CAM data exchange and key component of Zenzic’s Testbed UK); support for BSI’s CAV programme (helping to define terminology and identify gaps for future standards) and for the European Commission as a member of an expert panel providing recommendations on the ethics of automated vehicles.

How does your organisation fit within the larger context of UK CAM?

Reed Mobility is a micro-SME and so has limited scope to make an impact as a single organisation. However, as an individual, I have been living and breathing the promise and the challenges of automated vehicles for more than a decade now, bringing my experiences as a cognitive psychologist, human factors researcher and R&D project leader to bear on the CAM sector.

It has been an honour to participate in some of the UK’s highest profile automated vehicle projects, including GATEway, the Smart Mobility Living Lab, and ConVEx. I have worked alongside global blue chip companies, innovative start-ups, progressive local authorities and academic leaders in delivering exciting project outcomes – such as the world’s first grocery delivery by automated vehicle. I have also enjoyed playing a role in the development of guidelines, standards and regulations around automated vehicles and supporting organisations in understanding how these technologies are likely to emerge and the nature of the benefits they may bring.

I therefore see the role of Reed Mobility as:

  • Understanding the developing CAM landscape;
  • Recognising the respective viewpoints of organisations across the public, private, academic and start-up sectors;
  • Helping each to collaborate and bring the best out of each other;
  • To ensure that CAM projects and initiatives are designed safely, ethically and to maximise positive outcomes from a human perspective.

Why is collaboration so important for the effective development and deployment of CAM in the UK?

The approach taken by UK Government is to be commended in supporting collaboration in the CAM sector. Firstly, by creating CCAV and Zenzic to lead on CAM strategy; secondly, in providing regulatory guidance to support organisations wishing to develop CAM technologies and thirdly, in allocating budget to support R&D projects. The structure and approach to funding R&D, with a variety of competitions implemented via Innovate UK, has helped to drive effective collaboration across a diverse set of organisations – some only tangentially involved in CAM but each with an interesting and relevant perspective on the topic. This can be seen in the breadth and scope of projects in CCAV’s September 2018 review of R&D activities.

Whilst this approach introduces some complexities in terms of the consortium agreements and project management, I believe that the emergent collaborations between organisations from different sectors, of varying sizes and with different objectives has produced better project outcomes than those that would otherwise have been achieved had competitions been designed in a more restrictive manner.

How does the UK Connected and Automated Mobility Roadmap to 2030 encourage this collaboration?

Zenzic’s UK CAM Roadmap encourages collaboration by clearly illustrating the vision for future CAM and highlighting the steps on the pathways towards the desired outcomes. This means that relevant organisations can identify which elements of the roadmap are most relevant for them and, where necessary, build consortia to help tackle these challenges most effectively – with Zenzic able to support the matchmaking process.

The next update will see the tracking of progress and contributions against roadmap milestones. Why do you think this is important? How will this help to foster a collaborative approach to CAM Testbed UK?

Many roadmaps for CAM technologies have been produced over the years – many of which have become rapidly outdated and irrelevant due to the changing nature of the technology, regulations and the use cases to which such technologies may be applied. The UK CAM Roadmap stands out as a more practical and dynamic tool to support genuine action and involvement for and from the CAM ecosystem in the UK and beyond. The ability to track progress, record contributions and update future pathways will greatly enhance the usefulness of the roadmap. Highlighting the next steps for CAM R&D will help organisations to identify with whom they could or should be collaborating with in order to progress. The roadmap therefore forms a vital tool that organisations can use to plan their R&D approach and understand the path to achieving a return on the investments necessary to achieve CAM deployment.

Why are you putting yourself forward as a CAM Creator for the next roadmap release?

I would like Reed Mobility to be recognised as a CAM Creator as I believe we have a significant role to play in helping organisations to realise the anticipated benefits of automated vehicles and to set such developments in the broader context of wider changes to the mobility landscape. In particular, the need to decarbonise transportation, to improve air quality, to reduce dependence on the private car, to facilitate active travel modes and to enable mobility for those who have additional needs at present. The COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdown has thrown a different light onto this picture and, as the UK CAM community, we must reflect how the changes in mobility that were observed may change transport need and demand for both people and goods in the short, medium and longer term. Reed Mobility and fellow CAM Creators are well placed to support Zenzic in considering how these changes might translate into future iterations of the roadmap.

Why should other organisations become CAM Creators for the next release?

I would recommend organisations participate as CAM Creators for three key reasons. Firstly, to be able to engage with Zenzic and the wider associated CAM community. This will build understanding as to how the UK CAM ecosystem is evolving and facilitate participation in future activities. Secondly, to be able to provide critical input into how the CAM roadmap (and associated activities) will evolve. No-one has all the answers and many predictions made five or more years ago have proven to be wildly inaccurate. Input from a wider stakeholder group may help to refine (or revolutionise!) the established thinking as to how CAM technologies may be developed and deployed – leading to better outcomes for the UK transport system and advantages for the UK CAM sector. Thirdly, since seeing the stuttering vehicles attempting to complete the DARPA challenges from 2004 onwards to the emergence of Google’s self-driving car project in 2010 and through to UK on-road trials by the likes of Oxbotica and Five, it has been my belief that working in CAM would be both incredibly challenging and very exciting. Not only this, but it would also be the area of transport research where I could have the biggest positive influence on safety, security, prosperity and sustainability of our society. Who wouldn’t want to participate in that…!?

Want to become a CAM Creator? Register here today.